Statistics Canada’s offices in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Statistics Canada’s offices in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Hate crimes in Canada rose in 2019, setting the scene for COVID-induced spike

Police-reported hate crimes in 2019 were the second-highest reported since 2009

Police-reported hate crimes in Canada were on the rise a year before the pandemic even began, a report from Statistics Canada released Monday (March 29) said.

The number rose to 1,946 instance in 2019, a seven per cent increase compared to the year prior. It still remained slightly below the 2,073 hate crimes reported to police in 2017.

However, aside from 2017, the year prior to the pandemic saw the highest number of police-reported hate crimes since comparable data began to be collected in 2009. On average, 1,518 hate crimes have been reported annually by police since 2009.

While the trends in police-reported hate crimes are important, a separate Statistics Canada survey found that two-thirds of hate crimes are not reported to the authorities.

In 2019, B.C. reported 49 more incidents, while Alberta was the only province to see police-reported hate crimes decrease by 38.

Non-violent hate crimes, which account for just over half of all incidents, rose by six per cent in 2019. Violent incident increased by eight per cent.

Statistics Canada found that 46 per cent of all police-reported hate crimes were based on ethnicity in 2019, with Black people the most likely to be targeted, followed by people of Asian descent. A further 32 per cent of these crimes were motivated by religion, half of those against Jewish people, followed by Muslims at 10 per cent of overall hate crimes and Catholics and other religions at three per cent each.

While police-reported incidents show a decrease in hate crimes against Jewish people, an annual audit conducted by advocacy group B’Nai Brith Canada reported a record number of anti-Semitic incidents for the fourth consecutive year. The number of police-reported incidents against Muslims grew, largely, Statistics Canada said, due more incidents in Quebec.

Fourteen per cent of all police-reported hate crimes in 2019 were based on sexual orientation and led to the highest number reported since records began to be kept in 2009.

Statistics Canada said that the 2019 information will be used as a base line to measure in detail the impacts that the COVID pandemic has had on hate crimes. Other sources have revealed huge increases in hate crimes, particularly against people of Asian descent, since the pandemic began.


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